Rev. Mark Buetow
Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together.
– Isaiah 45:8
Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. – Psalm 85:11
Luther’s Small Catechism teaches us to say this about Jesus: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.” The words above from Isaiah and Psalm 85 remind us that this joining of the Divine Nature of the Son of God to human flesh was always how God was going to come to us and save us. From above comes righteousness, the Holy Son of the Father. From the substance of the earth, dust, the flesh of Mary, is the human nature of Jesus. The divine and human natures in Christ are together one person we know as Jesus. Jesus is a man. Jesus is also God. This is one of the things that sets the Christian religion apart from other faiths. Many may believe that Jesus is a man, a good teacher, a prophet or whatever. But Christians believe, on the basis of God’s Word, that Jesus is true God. And we worship Him as true God.
The Son of God became man in Mary’s womb when the angel Gabriel spoke God’s Word to her. He told her that the Child she would bear would be the “Son of the Most High.” That means that baby will be God. Mary is the Mother of God! But the angel also said the Child would have the throne of His Father, David. That means the baby will be a true human being with a human family tree. And tying it all together? His name. Jesus. Joshua. “Yahweh (the LORD) saves.” God becomes a man to save sinners.
And that’s really what this is all about. What’s the big deal that God comes down? That He becomes a man? That He is born as a baby? Well, first of all, it means we can stop trying to figure out God as if He’s just some invisible, mysterious Being out there about which we don’t know anything. No more guessing what God is like or what He is up to. Now we know! He is about the business of saving sinners who have turned aside and made a mess of things. Of their lives, of other people’s lives. People who have turned away from God. Abandoned their neighbors. Failed in their callings. Ruined what was good. For them, what has God got in store? A manger. Diapers. A childhood. A baptism. A forty day fast followed by awful temptation. A secret arrest in the dark of night. A sham trial. A weak-willed Roman governor. A whip with razor blades. A crown of thorns. A cross and nails. Death. A tomb. And then an empty tomb. All of that is why God became a man.
As we get closer to Christmas, the church hears these words which came from the mouths and pens of prophets and psalm writers. These words invite us to behold the mystery of the incarnation, the “God-in-the-flesh” mystery which we could never make up or figure out. Rather, this mystery is revealed to us. The skies pour down righteousness. The earth brings forth salvation. The Son of God takes up a dwelling in Mary’s Womb and Mary gives to God of her own flesh so that when this Child is born, you have God and Man right there. God-with-us, Immanuel. In Jesus, heaven and earth have come together. Where man and God were as far apart as we could be because of sin, Jesus brings God and man back together in Himself. And by His death and resurrection brings us back to God the Father.
And then, baptized into Him, we in our dying dust, are washed with His righteousness in a new birth from above. And we see the beautiful parallels of Christmas. God became a Child so that we could become children of God. God is born as a baby so that we would be born anew from above. God takes on human flesh so that we would be joined to God through faith and Christ living in us. Christ came to have earthly life so that we would have eternal life. It’s all tied together in the Babe of Bethlehem.